Nahum Barnea
Nahum Barnea
Photo: Dana Kopel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at a press conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday

Netanyahu's student learned from the master

Analysis: The PM blames Yamina leader Bennett for his own failure to form a right-wing government, but by attempting to destroy his former protégé in the eyes of his own constituents, he ruined his chances of clinging onto power

Nahum Barnea |
Published: 04.23.21 , 19:22
When late prime minister Ariel Sharon wanted to insult then-MK Benjamin Netanyahu, he would mock his body language.
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  • "Look at him sweat," Sharon would say. "He's terrified, panicked!"
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    בנימין נתניהו
    בנימין נתניהו
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at a press conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday
    (Photo: Contact)
    Netanyahu overcame his perspiration issues, but anyone watching his televised press conference on Wednesday evening could smell the terror and panic.
    His aim was to project strength, a fighting spirit and determination - but the results were rather pathetic.
    The prime minister is not the first politician to refuse to accept that it was time to leave the stage.
    It happened to his beloved Margaret Thatcher and Donald Trump, but as we all know, they ultimately failed to cling to power.
    Netanyahu was given the mandate to form a government two weeks ago. After previous elections, his efforts to muster a viable coalition lasted up to the very last minute - but this time is different.
    The persistent refusal of the extremist Religious Zionist Party to allow Netanyahu to form a government that depended on the support of the Islamist Ra'am Party has demolished any chance he had of success.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    ישיבת ממשלה
    ישיבת ממשלה
    Religious Zionist leader Bezalel Smotrich
    (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
    Netanyahu is unable to cobble together any coalition. In defeat, he turned to Plan B, which was to prevent the formation of any government by anyone else.
    Rather than wooing protégé-turned-nemesis Naftali Bennett who heads the far-right Yamina, Netanyahu instead plans to destroy his former chief of staff in the eyes of his own party and those his constituents.
    Politics are not for the faint hearted and the bitter fight for the premiership inevitably involves verbal attacks and televised drama. Although that has never prevented political alliances from being formed after the squabbles were over.
    But Netanyahu is a lair. He blamed Bennett for his own defeat, something that will not go unanswered.
    It was not Bennett who stopped Netanyahu from forming a coalition. The blame for that must actually be placed at the feet of Religious Zionist leader Bezalel Smotrich, the prime minister's sidekick.
    For had there actually been any chance of establishing a right-wing government under Netanyahu, Bennett would have gladly joined.
    Yet Netanyahu demanded total submission from the Yamina leader even without a coalition behind him, and that Bennett could not accept.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    Naftali Bennett and Benjamin Netanyahu speaking during a Knesset session before the two fell out
    Naftali Bennett and Benjamin Netanyahu speaking during a Knesset session before the two fell out
    Naftali Bennett and Benjamin Netanyahu speaking during a Knesset session before the two fell out
    (Photo: EPA)
    Netanyahu's Hail Mary gambit, pushing for a direct election for the prime minister, was designed to free him from the corruption charges he is currently facing in Jerusalem District Court. It would have also been legally questionable had it passed.
    Bennett refused to back the legislation to make it happen, triggering the wrath of Netanyahu, who accused him of wanting his job for himself to satisfy an insatiable appetite for power and for his own personal political ambitions.
    Netanyahu might be right, but he need only look in the mirror to realize that the student has learned well from the master.

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